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on 12 March 2017
I read the first two series a long time ago, at a guess when I was around 17. I read a lot of SF and fantasy in those days.

The first series was really good. It was captivating, even if Covenant gets on your nerves (as I presume he's supposed to). The second series dragged on a bit, although it was nice to be back in that world.

Now I'm older. I seem to have lost patience and am more depressed, cynical, bitter and twisted myself ( :-) ) so I don't find the characters' annoying behaviour as entertaining as perhaps I used to.

Then I'm not really happy with the internal logic of the magic. In the Lord of the Rings Sauron puts a lot of his power into the ring. Then he loses the ring and becomes a puff of smoke. Over time he regains much of his strength and with the ring would become extra powerful. Ok, weird, but at least it's clear that destroying the ring would be bad (for him). And it can only be unmade in the same fire it was made. Ok, I'll trust Gandalf on that.

Spoiler non-alert: none of the following happens.

But what would happen if you were to stir a shard of the Illearth stone in some Earthblood and water from Lake Glimmermere with the Staff of Law? If it were to dissolve and the One Tree were watered with it, and a fruit were to drop from the tree and be consumed by the offspring of a Haruchai and Linden Avery, whilst in Andelain, what would happen to the Worm and the Arch of Time? I don't know—and I don't care.

I'd read a few dozen pages and was thinking to myself, "that's odd! He hasn't used 'crepuscular' yet. And bang! There it was on the next page. So that's the same as always.

In summary, If you liked the second series, I guess you'll like this one too.
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on 22 June 2017
Really good to read about the Covenant characters again and pick up the storyline. Really great story and so well read, Anton Lesser-breaths life in to the characters. It's s pity it was abridged though! Pity it is only one book so 10 CDs go very quickly!
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on 27 February 2017
I love this story from the first trilogy to the end. It's enthralling, surprising, descriptive, magical and emotional. The characters are many facited and complex. An epic tale with epic but flawed personalities. This isn't the first time I have read this book and I doubt it will be the last.
My only criticism is that on this format there are numerous spelling errors and at times wrong words and name spellings. The does at times spoil the flow of the book and therefore needs to be rectified.
Thanks Stephen for a great read and creating characters that I have cared for.
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on 12 December 2016
Over-written. Too long. Tedious reading
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on 8 August 2017
Recommended reading
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on 13 March 2011
Methinks Donaldson was too long away from the Covenant series of books and maybe should have left well alone. Though interesting in parts, like other books in this trilogy (of four????) too much attention is paid to the self centered selfish attitude of Ms Avery to put this in the same 5 star league as the three previous trilogies (three books each......)
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on 12 May 2015
Firstly let me say that I've previously been a great fan of Stephen Donaldson - I thought the first two Chronicles of Thomas Covenant were amongst the best fantasy novels (of a thousand or so) that I've read. However this is a deeply flawed and disappointing sequel. I've now trudged, in ever deepening gloom, through all four books and, as they're effectively a single seamless tale, this review covers the whole sequence rather than any individual book.

Basically, the whole thing is simply tedious. The characters continually restate the plot and their relationships to each other - presumably intended to increase tension, but after a few dozen occurrences it just becomes mind-numbing padding. The worst instance is a single conversation at the start of the 3rd book that lasts over 120 pages, but there seem to be repetitive internal monologues of angst and inadequacy every few pages. There are still some flashes of brilliant writing, but one is so exhausted by the preceding drudgery that the pleasure of finding them is quite numbed. It would be a much better novel for being half the size - 3000 pages is far too long for the events it contains.

One gets the impression that much of the plot was based on a tick-list of characters aimed at bringing back the complete crowd-pleasing cast of
haruchai, stonedowners, ramen, ranyhyn, giants, lords, sand-gorgons, forestals, ur-viles, elohim, lurker, cavewight, raver, waynhim etc from every previous book. With the breaking of various laws it seems that even death is no barrier to having at least a walk-on part - even the illearth stone makes an appearance. About the only thing I didn't spot is repeated use the phrase "roynish barking" which previously seemed compulsory whenever the urviles appeared. It seems more like a cram-everything-in fan-fic homage to the originals rather than the work of the same author.

The time-travel element seems completely out of place with the tone of the other novels and is presumably there to allow the author to complete the tick-list of characters and enable more exposition regarding the origin of the lands various features and historical characters. Linden's various excursions to the past seem largely aimed at demystifying the back-story to the original books - quite deflating really since they fit much better with the fantasy setting as myths rather than step-by-step explanations of how things came to be. We really didn't need to know the story of the Guardian of the one tree, how Berek discovered Earth power, why the viles went bad etc - such things may be of interest to true Covenant completists but to those of us simply looking for an excellent story they're extraneous.

There are far too many deus ex machina episodes, often involving powerful pop-up characters who appear unheralded to offer some wisdom or perform a function then are disposed of once their role is over. Some use of these devices is generally acceptable in fantasy since the author needs to construct a background without a real world to provide context, but they are over-used ad nauseum here to the point where the main characters actions often seem to have little point because someone/something will drop in to either create or solve a problem for them. The ur-viles are a particularly ominpresent get-out-jail-free card, apparently tailing around after the main cast invisibly then uncloaking whenever a problem is seems unsolvable. One particularly delating occurrence is when, after being told for a couple of thousand pages how unstoppable sand-gorgons and the skurj are, both are wiped out cleanly in a paragraph by Covenant shouting mystic words. A similar things occurs earlier when the unbeatable demondim are demolished instantly by a pop-up character, and at various points both the escorting haruchai and giants are nearly wiped out only to have unexpected save-the-day reinforcements drop in apparently out of the blue. The cumulative effect of all these excursions from plot continuity is to remove any sense of buy-in one might have regarding the fate of the characters - leaving residual warm-feelings from the first two trilogies and gritted-teeth determination as the only reasons to finish the saga (when, alas, the finale continues in the same "Eh? What happened there?" disappointing vein).

If I had Linden's time travelling ability then I'd create my own caesare and send a "don't read these books" message to myself. The conclusion of the 2nd Chronicles was one of the most powerful endings in the fantasy genre and really needed no sequel - especially not one that falls so far short of that standard.
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on 16 June 2016
God this series has lasted too long! Stop being so bloody pathetic Mr Covenant!
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on 2 November 2004
As,I'm sure many Donaldson fans would agree, the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant have captured the imagination of readers in a way only a handful of other fantasy novels have done. Critics have often argued vociferously that Donaldson's 'Chronicles' draw too much from the works of Tolkien: an accusation which I believe to be totally unfounded. Thomas Covenant is one of the most well rounded literarym characters I have ever come across. His fundamental human weaknesses create a wonderfully paradoxical air of reality in a novel based in a world of fantasy.
Like many fans, I faced Donaldson's return novel 'The Runes of the Earth' with extreme apprehension, but I have to say he has surpassed himself. If it were possible Donaldson has suceeded in adding a new dimension to the 'Land' that was already rich in detail and plausibility. He seems to have found the perfect balance between drawing from the first two chronicles and incorporating new themes and concepts. The lack of Covenant as the main figure to base the narration around detracts nothing from the novel. Furthermore, the subtle suggestions that Covenant is indeed alive tantalizes the reader and adds to the ambivalence of the novel.
I shall say no more! For Donaldson fans 'The Runes of the Earth' is a dream come true, for new readers the time has come for your initiation into a truly remarkable saga.
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on 19 October 2005
This book has a lot to live up to in my eyes.The 1st and 2nd series of thomas covenent are among my favourite books ever, Sitting proudly on my top shelf along with LOTR, the Silmarillion and the Saga of the Exiles by Julian May.I Remember saving up all my dinner money so i could buy them, a great way to lose some weight! so when i heard that Donaldson was writing a 3rd series i was very pleased.
You won't be dissapointed either, this is a great read.I hav'nt read a book in one go in a long time but when i picked this up i could'nt put it down.Donaldson has lost none of his style and the new characters will stand up against old favourites such as Foamfollower and Nom the Sandgorgon.Do yourself a favour, if you like EPIC fantasy on a grand scale then grab yourself a copy quick.And if you have'nt read the 1st&2nd series go out and get them too! now time to go back to some old favourites for me...
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